By Fiona Burrows
I’ve recently had some treatment that it was hoped would reduce the level of chronic pain that I have or maybe even get rid of it all together. After more than 25 years of pain that for the most part hasn’t responded to different treatments and has been getting worse–it seemed strange when the specialist suggested that it could all be controlled by this follow-up treatment, and what I’d had done earlier in the year. I have become so used to living with chronic pain–I may not like it, but I’m used to it. I can’t remember what it’s like not to be in pain and everything I do, seems to have to be considered in light of that pain and how it will affect me.
I guess you could say, I feel like chronic pain is part of who I am, so I wondered if I could get my head around no pain–but I was convinced it was worth trying. In fact my doctor had said early last year that really almost anything reasonable, was worth trying as it seemed I couldn’t continue the way things were going. Of course the decision to do anything wasn’t that easy, but I believed that I was doing the right thing by giving this a try, even though I didn’t know a whole lot about how and why it works, or how long any relief may last.
I’ve always thought that I needed to approach the start of any treatment, hopeful for success–or why bother doing it at all. But years of being told that the results “were not as good as we’d hoped” also mean that I think I tend to protect myself in some ways, from another failure.
So. . . Are you doing better now?
Since I came out of hospital I have had people asking how the treatment went this time; can I feel a difference; is my pain all gone; or is it better; do I know it’s been successful? and various other things. I’ve been asking myself the same questions and I’m not sure I really know the answers.
Approaching another appointment with the specialist, when I was wondering yet again if I felt any better, the above question came to mind. I think I probably do feel better, but I still have pain and it may not be a huge improvement on how it was before. Maybe some more time will help things settle down more. I don’t really know But what if this is as good as it gets? Can I live with that and be happy with that? Am I still grateful for what improvement there has been? If any improvement may only last for a time is that still a success? Have I failed yet again?
I began to wonder if I have been trying to convince myself that there is improvement just because I want to seem “positive” about it, or because I long to be able to say something has been successful, and an answer to prayer. Sometimes it’s hard to feel that so many people have prayed and I can’t show some miracle improvement for them. I think I’ve accepted that God hasn’t chosen to heal me at this time over the years, but as hard as it is for me to accept, sometimes it’s harder to see how others are affected by it.
Even if the results are not as good as they could have been. . .
. . . God still answered many prayers–prayers for me to tolerate the treatment better this time; He gave me peace as I endured the hospital stay; He showed me that people cared enough to pray for me and to follow up how things went; my family adjusted their Christmas plans to fit in with me. So God provided me with encouragement and support for the journey.
Answers to prayer come in different forms and I can look back to this time last year and know I’m in a better place than I was then–physically and emotionally–so there has been improvement. Maybe the miracle relief of my pain didn’t happen, but if this is as good as my pain relief will be for now, that’s still okay. I still got to yet again, see God’s hand at work in my life and I’m encouraged to keep on trusting that He will continue to give me the resources to cope with however long this lasts; however bad it gets.
God doesn’t give us just “as good as it gets”, He promises to give us so much more. In Corinthians Paul reminds me God’s grace is enough for, as good as it is–right now, and also for whatever lies ahead until that miracle relief is one day achieved.
‘But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Considering those lilies . . .
As Jesus taught His disciples in Luke’s Gospel not to be concerned over what they needed for each day, He promised that for us too.
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:27-31)
Over the last 25 years God has proven His promise to give me all that I need–for each day. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some really hard days. There have. But God has brought me through them and I can trust that He will continue to do so. God promises what we need, not what we want. He knows better than I do, what I need.
I just need God’s help to remember that, and I need to hold on to that truth and the hope that it brings me as I face each day.
Fiona Burrows lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is thankful for the difference God makes in her life, and the lessons He is teaching her, as she lives with chronic back pain. She enjoys finding time for reading, writing, and photography, and to travel when she is able. You can contact her in the Sunroom.